Man’s Greatest Need is God’s Greatest Deed. God’s Word, the Bible declares that the dominant problem in the world is sin. It stains every life, disturbs every relationship, fixes itself on every baby, rules the heart of every worldling. It makes us susceptible to disease, suffering, war, death, and ultimately, separation from God in hell. Sin renders us unable to love and please God (Rom 8:5-8). It makes us children of wrath who are enslaved to sin. Thus sin racks up a debt of guilt and moral obligation to God that calls for God’s judgment (Matt 18:23-34). Certainly man’s greatest need is for divine forgiveness of sin.
Because God is Holy and Just, He will punish all sin. Scripture teaches that all sin is first and foremost against God (Ps 51:4). Unforgiven sin exposes the soul to unquenchable divine wrath – God has announced that He will not acquit the guilty (Ex 23:7). Scripture warns that unrepentantpersons are “storing up wrath for the day of wrath” (Rom 2:1-10). Those who do not repent and come to God for forgiveness in Christ will have God’s eternal wrath released upon them. God is determined to not leave the guilty unpunished (Ps 7:11). He is angry with the wicked everyday – He regards it to be an abomination to justify the wicked (Prov 17:15; 24:24).
Because God is Holy and Just, there must be a perfect sacrifice in order for God to forgive sin. God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to be that perfect sacrifice (Jn 3:16). Christ’s death was substitutionary. Jesus gave His life in the sinner’s place – He took the sinner’s guilt and was punished in the sinner’s place so that believers might be right with God. So perfect and sufficient was Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, that God is willing to freely forgive and receive any sinner who places his or her entire trust in God’s Son (Jn 1:12).
The Good News of the Gospel declares that every facet of our human ruin due to sin has been decisively answered by the work of Christ. Because of Christ’s death in the place of sinners, God is able to be gracious to even the worst sinner who believes and repents. Consider how each aspect of salvation in Christ answers mankind’s greatest dilemma:
Cleansing and justification answer man’s problem of shame, defilement, pollution, and uncleanness in the sight of God. Redemption answers our need of liberation and freedom from the bondage of sin. Propitiation answers our need for deliverance from the wrath of God. (Only the death of Christ in our place can silence the pounding gavel of conscience that keeps hammering out our guilty verdict.) Reconciliation answers our alienation and estrangement from God. (Scripture states that every unforgiven sinner is still an enemy of God – Rom 5:10.)
JUSTIFICATION: God’s action in our justification – when God justifies the believing sinner, He makes a legal pronouncement. It is God’s verdict that the believing sinner is righteous in God’s sight (Rom 3:24). Christ’s righteousness is given to the believer as a gift (Phil 3:9; 2 Cor 5:21).
Result of justification – the believing sinner is freely forgiven and is given a status of right standing before God (Gal 2:16).
PROPITIATION: God’s action in our propitiation – when Christ gave His life on that cruel cross He was making an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe. Christ’s death satisfied God’s wrath against our sins (Is 53:6).
Result of propitiation – since the wrath of God has fallen upon Christ, the believing sinner is delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin (Rom 5:8-10).
REDEMPTION: God’s action in our redemption – Christ’s work of redemption on the cross paid the ransom price to set us free. His death purchased believers for God (1 Pet 1:18-21).
Result of redemption – the believing sinner is set free from the power and dominion of sin (1 Cor 6:11, 20; Eph 1:7).
RECONCILIATION: God’s action in our reconciliation – Reconciliation removes the sin barrier between the believer and God; it restores friendly relations with God. God is the Reconciler (2 Cor 5:18-19).
Result of reconciliation – the enmity and hostility in the sinner’s heart toward God is removed. The result of reconciliation is fellowship, acceptance, and favor with God (2 Cor 5:20-21).